President Preckwinkle Announces First-Ever Digital Equity Action Plan to Bridge Digital Divide in Cook County
Action Plan and Interactive Digital Equity Map Released in Celebration of Digital Inclusion Week
In celebration of Digital Inclusion Week (DIW), Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle released today Cook County’s first-ever Digital Equity Action Plan. The plan offers a strategic framework to ensure that all Cook County residents have equitable access to the digital infrastructure, devices and tools to thrive in today’s economy and society. It also invites residents, businesses and community organizations to collaboratively build impactful solutions in the areas of digital accessibility, confidence, safety and security, and infrastructure. To kick off DIW, Cook County’s Bureau of Technology also released an interactive Digital Equity Map which allows residents to gain insights about digital access in their communities.
“The quality of digital equity in Cook County affects the economy, wellbeing and social connection of every resident, though some communities are more affected than others and in unique ways,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “Cook County is committed to building digital equity for all residents and this Action Plan charts our path forward.”
To build the plan, Cook County consulted extensively with communities across the County. The Guiding Team of digital equity leaders supported and led 12 Community Conversation events, interviews with over a dozen digital equity experts and a public survey that garnered over 3000 responses. Cook County plans to hold follow-up conversations in community to sustain and grow the region-wide effort to build digital equity.
"Digital equity is not just a goal; it's a commitment to ensuring that every Cook County resident, regardless of their background or location, has the tools and opportunities they need to thrive in today's digital world,” said Kyla Williams Tate, Director of Digital Equity. “Our Digital Equity Action Plan is a roadmap to bridge the digital divide, and together with our community, we will build a more inclusive and connected Cook County."
In parallel to today’s Action Plan announcement, Cook County’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) division also unveiled an online Digital Equity Map as part of the County’s DIW program. The map provides insights into the relationship between socioeconomic conditions and access to broadband and other technologies. Partners may use the map to improve engagement and outreach strategies and provide residents access to a comprehensive understanding of the many factors influencing Digital Equity in Cook County.
Cook County GIS devised a Digital Equity Score for the map that leverages data available for census tracts, commissioner districts, municipalities, political townships and zip codes regarding socioeconomic conditions that may limit a community's access to broadband. To access the map and to learn more about how the map was created, go to: maps.cookcountyil.gov/digital-equity-map
“The digital divide plays such a significant role in the inequities we see across Cook County, and yet to residents of more affluent communities, it may seem as if broadband and new technologies are ubiquitous,” said Cook County Chief Information Officer Tom Lynch. “Our GIS team put together this map both to support our efforts toward digital inclusion and to raise awareness of how deep a divide exists today.”
The Cook County Digital Equity Action Plan and Digital Equity Map were released on the first day of Digital Inclusion Week, which runs from October 2 to October 6. Organized by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA), this year marks the seventh annual Digital Inclusion Week and includes a week of action to elevate digital equity throughout the country. With support from NDIA, organizations and individuals across the country host special events, run social media campaigns, and share their digital inclusion actions and progress. Cook County is hosting over 40 events in celebration of this year’s DIW..
To access the Digital Equity Action plan, the Digital Equity Map and for a full list of local DIW events and details, go to www.cookcountyil.gov/service/digital-equity.